Time trend of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons between 1995 and 2019 in Germany - Showcases for successful European legislation

2023, Fachzeitschriften

Burkhardt, T.; Scherer, M.; Scherer, G.; Pluym, N.; Weber, T.; Kolossa-Gehring, M.
Environ Res 216 (2023), 114638; online: 25 Oktober 2022

Starting in 2002, regulations and legislative amendments in Germany focused on the non-smoker protection with several measures to reduce exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS).

The present work aimed to evaluate the relationship between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and SHS exposure and to determine to which extent enforced non-smoking regulations and smoking bans affected the exposure of the non-smoking population in Germany since their implementation in the early 2000s until today.

For this purpose, cotinine and selected monohydroxylated PAHs (OH-PAHs) were analyzed by means of (UP)LC-MS/MS in 510 24-h-urine samples of the Environmental Specimen Bank collected over a time span of 24 years from 1995 to 2019. Median urinary cotinine levels were found to steadily and significantly decline by 82% from 1995 to 2019. A significant decrease of urinary 3-hydroxybenzo[a]pyrene (19%), 1-OH-pyrene (39%), 1-naphthol (66%), 1- (17%), 2- (25%), and 3-OH-phenanthrene (22%) was also observed throughout the same time span. The decline in urinary levels of cotinine and several OH-PAHs can most likely be attributed to smoking bans and regulations limiting SHS and PAH exposure.

This study therefore emphasizes the relevance of human biomonitoring to investigate the exposure of humans to chemicals of concern, assess the effectiveness of regulatory measures, and help policies to enforce provisions to protect public health.

doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.114638